The Basics Of RAW Photography

On top of my obsession for fashion and make-up there’s one more hobby I absolutely adore, and that’s photography. Whilst I’ve been blogging I’ve been shooting most of my photos in RAW, and I thought I’d do a post about what taking photos in RAW means and how I prefer it to shooting photos in standard modes.

This post is mainly for DSLR cameras and if anyone wants to know what camera I use then it’s a Canon 1200D!

So, what does RAW mean?

RAW doesn’t actually stand for anything, it’s a setting you can take photos in. In your camera you have different settings for image quality – options could be small, medium, large or RAW.

Small, medium and large settings determine how big your photo will be (in terms of the size of the file) and they will all be JPEG. Then you have RAW photos, which are the biggest size and have the best quality. They’re also saved as a RAW file instead of a JPEG.

What’s the difference between JPEG and RAW?

The easiest way to think about it is that a JPEG file is a finished product and a RAW photo is the photo before editing. JPEG files aren’t (in the photography world) meant to be edited much and this is because the quality isn’t as good. When you have a RAW file, you can edit it better because it’s a much clearer photo and it takes in so much more information, and then you save it after editing as a JPEG (and then you have your ‘finished product’).

RAW photos hold SO much more detail and light to JPEG photos. Here’s two photos taken exactly the same but in the two modes. Left is RAW and right is JPEG. (I’ve not edited them)

the-basics-of-RAW-photography-RAW VS JPEG

I’ll also show you a comparison below of zoomed in photos so you can see the detail difference (I’ve zoomed them in the same amount).





See the quality difference? If you’re on your phone it may not be clear but click the photos and zoom in further, you’ll notice the JPEG image is much more pixelated.

How do I shoot in RAW?

If you go to your camera menu or settings, somewhere you’ll find ‘image quality’ – here you’ll have your options for shooting in small, medium, large or RAW modes.

Will it make a difference to how I take photos?

Not at all! You take your photos exactly how you did before – on your camera it’ll look pretty much the same as a JPEG photo until you get into your editing software and realise how much more detailed RAW photos are.


How do I edit them?

This is where it gets complicated. You have to edit your photos a bit differently using some different programs, and unless you have Lightroom or Photoshop you won’t be able to easily edit RAW photos – free programs don’t support them.

I edit my photos in Photoshop CS6 – this isn’t the newest version but my dad had it on an old CD which I stole last year. Attached to Photoshop packages you get something called ‘Adobe Bridge’. To find it you can click on File in Photoshop and it’ll say ‘Browse In Bridge’.

Adobe Bridge looks a bit like this:

the-basics-of-RAW-photography-Adobe BRIDGE

Bridge is a program where you can navigate around your folders and find photos easily, and you right click them to edit them. When you right click a RAW file in Bridge it’ll give you an option to ‘Edit in Camera RAW’. Camera RAW is an extra program where you do all the editing. It looks like this:

the-basics-of-RAW-photography-Adobe Camera RAW

The options obviously take a while to get used to – it’s pretty similar to Photoshop editing but it’s eventually easier to use and there are LOADS more options. Honestly, the possibilites of editing photos in Camera RAW are endless and you can do so much more to them without them looking obviously edited or compressed.


When you’ve finished editing your photo in Camera RAW you need to open it in Photoshop. See in that previous photo it says ‘Open Image’? You click that and it opens it in Photoshop – once it’s open it’s now a completed JPEG file.

The only issue is, it’s still a HUGE file. The size of it can be 5 times the size it needs to be (especially for me, my photos only need to be 1000 pixels wide to fit on my blog). Luckily in Photoshop you can change the size of images when you save them.

Go to File, and click Save to Web. It’ll come up with the sizes in the bottom right corner and you can save it as a smaller file. This way it’ll take less time to load on your blog and it won’t take up tons of memory on your computer/laptop.

the-basics-of-RAW-photography-Save to web

I hope this post has given you some idea as what a RAW file is (sorry if I made it sound MEGA complicated). If you’re really interested in photography then I’d definitely recommend finding out more about it – plus overall it actually makes editing photos a much quicker process!

Leave me a comment if you have any questions – I’ll reply to them all!

R x


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    • 8th May 2016 / 10:48 am

      I really want Lightroom it’s a great editing software! Try it out – let me know how you get on!

      R xoxo

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:48 am

      Glad you found it useful! Have a play around and see what you think! 🙂

      R xoxo

  1. 7th May 2016 / 5:41 pm

    Would never have thought there would be such a difference! I’ve never used the setting as I didn’t really understand it before. Wish they were easier to edit though, I just edit my photos with the Mac photo viewer out of laziness! Wish I had photoshop! xx

    Tamz |

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:49 am

      Yeah it’s a shame they’re so difficult to edit – I mean I’m not sure if they can be edited on Mac photo viewer so obviously try it but not sure if it will support it!

      R xoxo

  2. 7th May 2016 / 5:48 pm

    I did not know about this but I am going to investigate it as the quality difference is astounding. Thanks so much for sharing Robyn! xo

    Emily |

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:50 am

      Hope it makes sense! The difference is fab and I notice such clearer photos from when I used to take photos in Small standard mode!

      R xoxo

  3. 7th May 2016 / 7:41 pm

    Great tips! Maybe I should start shooting RAW – you can never have too much information and detail in photo before editing, it will just open more possibilities and flexibility to editing. Thanks for sharing!

    Best, Nora /

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:52 am

      You’re so right! It makes the flexibility in editing so much more diverse and the picture always comes out better! No problem, glad you like the post!

      R xoxo

  4. 7th May 2016 / 11:39 pm

    ooh very interesting! never heard of RAW before. Good to know! although i dont think I have the software to handle it…YET!

    Katie x x

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:53 am

      If you’re really interested in photography it’s an exciting thing to try out – one day you should definitely get Photoshop!

      R xoxo

  5. The Sunday Mode
    8th May 2016 / 3:04 am

    I found this really interesting, I always shoot in RAW and save my files as JPEGs but to be honest I never truly knew the difference between the two, I just knew everyone always says raw is best!

    Thanks for this post, it actually helped me a lot 🙂

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:53 am

      It makes so much more sense editing RAW photos when you know what the actual difference between the two is – so interesting right!

      R xoxo

  6. 8th May 2016 / 8:59 am

    I started taking pictures in RAW mode maybe about a year ago, but it was only a few months after that I realised you have to edit them a bit differently too! 😀 I’m still kind of in the middle of learning but now I definitely prefer shooting in RAW xx

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:54 am

      Yeah I’m not an expert or anything but I’ve been using it for a while and I find it so interesting!

      R xoxo

  7. Sam
    8th May 2016 / 9:23 am

    I had no idea about this but the difference is actually incredible! It’s definitely something I’m going to be looking into x

    Sam // Samantha Betteridge

    • 8th May 2016 / 10:54 am

      I definitely recommend it! If you have a good DSLR camera you’ll have the ability to shoot in RAW – I find it all so interesting!

      R xoxo

  8. 8th May 2016 / 4:46 pm

    I remember reading all about RAW and rushing to use it on my camera. Although no one mentioned about the editing like you have! If I’d have known, I wouldn’t have used it. I don’t have photoshop, but I can’t deny the quality is a million times better even if my whole process was a bit of a mare!

    Jodie //

    • 9th May 2016 / 10:23 am

      It’s something to get into though if it interests you! Lightroom and Photoshop are fab programmes to invest in!


  9. 8th May 2016 / 11:09 pm

    I alwayssssss work in RAW, the settings in Camera RAW in Photoshop definitely give you the opportunity to make your photos look as good as they can 🙂

    • 9th May 2016 / 10:24 am

      It’s the settings in Camera RAW that make me prefer it so much more, the editing process is so much better and it’s so much easier to use than the photoshop tools!

      R xoxo

    • 12th May 2016 / 3:27 pm

      Thank you! Hope you found it useful! 🙂

      R xoxo

  10. Toni
    12th May 2016 / 12:18 pm

    This is a really interesting post! I studied Photography at A-Level and was genuinely never taught the difference between a JPEG and a RAW photo ahahah! I have an Adobe subscription so I might give this a try and see if it makes a difference to my photos 🙂 I’m always looking for new ways to improve!

    Toni x

    • 12th May 2016 / 3:28 pm

      I was always taught about camera functions etc and never about how things were different, I found it really interesting reading/learning about the difference between RAW and jpeg!

      R xoxo

  11. 18th May 2016 / 4:17 pm

    You are a sweet heart for writing this. Its finally helped me to make my mind up and get that DLSR camera that i have been convincing myself i can manage on a point and shoot but i cant anymore! Thanks again xx

    • 20th May 2016 / 8:49 am

      Glad it helped you make your mind up!

      R xoxo

  12. Shannon Palmer
    19th May 2016 / 9:46 am

    I knew that RAW was a better one to go with but my old media teacher said otherwise.
    So glad you have posted this and will be trying out camera RAW!
    Great post!! x

    • 20th May 2016 / 8:51 am

      It depends! They’re both good, but I prefer RAW because of the quality and the fact you can edit them better!

      R xoxo

  13. Melanie
    22nd June 2016 / 2:10 am

    This is mega useful, thanks for sharing. I will definitely be trying this out on some pictures in the near future! (Also I think you explained it very clearly-I am not super good with photography and photoshop and this made perfect sense).

    • 22nd June 2016 / 9:44 am

      Thanks a lot! I tried to explain it as if I was speaking to someone directly – glad you found it helpful!

      R xoxo

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